Current Episodes

The Crack with the Spiders

DOCTOR WHO: THE WHISPERING GALLERY B

Photo credit: Ben Templesmith

Someone asked me, “So , what’s the crack with the spiders in the last episode?”

I considered this for a moment and then decided I couldn’t see any relevance to the spiders. Nothing pivotal or surprising.

I thought the theme of this half of the series ran along the lines of ‘People live and die; but the Doctor goes on.‘ The Doctor has his own adventures. He accrues companions as and when he needs them. Without specifically referencing the novels, things happen when we, the viewer, don’t watch. And, even when we the reader don’t read.

Much as Sarah Jane established in “School Reunion“, and Rose after her – the Doctor touches people’s lives, but they continue without him. Sometimes, they remain ‘touched’ by his absence and it affects the way they continue to exist. Oswyn has been ‘touched’ before she even got started; as a species, the Daleks have experienced an irrevocable change, and many have been scarred beyond assistance or repair. The Doctor, the Predator, the Oncoming Storm – the Last of the Timelords – he strikes the universe like a smooth, flat stone, and the ripples continue long after his departure.

I’m not sure the spider had any relevance beyond being a clue that the spaceship (with the dinosaurs on) wasn’t just a spaceship. It was an ark, from Earth (and, perhaps, a nod to original episode The Ark in Space, from the classic 12th season). I’m not suggesting the Silurians intentionally included spiders amongst the species carried away from Earth, but like any ship you can’t avoid some vermin and insects. I responded as much to my friends you asked the question, but I suppose I can’t completely cast aside the thought they might mean more than that.

Even as a viewer, the Doctor’s ripples impact me.

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All the Daleks Here Now

The New Paradigm Dalek

The New Dalek Paradigm

I did sort of hope that all the Daleks would have made more of an appearance in the ‘Asylum’, after all the hoo-haa about getting hold of older models. Indeed, I didn’t feel we saw enough older Daleks – of which plenty must exist amongst promotional groups. How many conventions have you visited on the geek circuit to find a Doctor Who look-a-like, TARDIS and one Dalek or another, generally of the old grey or black variety? Why couldn’t they use some of those, especially when the Doctor ventured into Intensive Care. Surely, all those Daleks should have conformed to the pre-golden format.

Personally, I got excited about the presence of the Special Weapons Dalek in the trailer. Admittedly, when it appeared originally – in “Remembrance of the Daleks” – it had very little screen time in action; the ‘Asylum’ seemed to effectively relegate to the status of scenery. I guess that they didn’t have the inclination to sort the innards out or something – refurbishing the tricycle or whatever. Maybe the Health & Safety standards associated with people working inside Daleks have become tougher – and the BBC didn’t want to dish out for the upgrade. In the old days, you could stick a couple of trolley wheels on the edges and tell the guy to get on with it. Now, they probably want remote controls, mini-bar facilities, breaks… the whole Savoy treatment.

I’m shocked that so little investment seems to have been even made in the use of the iDaleks from ‘Victory of the Daleks‘. Didn’t Moffat intend for the new purebreed Daleks to become the standard for his tenure? Using the RTD golden Dalek model just seems a little bit lazy.

“We spent all this money making the golden Dalek model for Season 1 of New Who – and I don’t think we’ve quite got our monies worth yet. Hey, let’s wheel out the gold ones and have a few of the iDaleks in the backdrop. Maybe let the white iDalek speak a bit, for diversity reasons.”

I felt that the CGI wide shots could have done more to include older models – would it have harmed anyone in the least to have added a few classic Daleks in the ‘big picture’ view?

I’m sure they do have a genuine excuse – maybe the Terry Nation Estate agreement doesn’t extend to the older models? Maybe I should have watched whatever Confidential episode might have followed the episode (did they do one? I didn’t check… Have they dropped those, too?).

I do some research and get back to this subject…

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Let’s Kill Hitler

Personally, I loved it. I loved the setting. I loved the sets. I loved the characters, including Mel. I loved the man-ship full of little people. I especially loved the people on Twitter who seemed upset about the throwaway use of Hitler and the retconned appearance of Mel.

I mean, what?

All of River Song’s history has had to be retconned into the series – she’s a character who knows the less about the Doctor the more he gets to know her. How was she ever going to be anything other than a bit on the retconned side of things? You couldn’t expect someone to have thought about the possibilities and mapped out the character in advance. Get too carried away with that and you would have tainted the series that came before, because they’d be full of inexplicable red herrings that you couldn’t quite account for and wouldn’t appreciate until later on.

Isn’t it enough to feature the first appearance of River’s Diary. And the throwaway comment about Temporal Grace for the fan-boys out there who always need a little bit more attention.

And Hitler? Honestly… in the series that last year included Churchill and the Daleks, do you seriously imagine that Hitler in a cupboard will be an end to this? Hitler did have an angle on mysticism and ancient relics of unimaginable power – and Churchill had a hankering to acquire the Doctor’s TARDIS for the good of Great Britain (and, no doubt, mankind).

So, stop whining and luxuriate in the moment. Mel regenerating into River Song. River coming to terms with her curves. A little nod to David T. in the clattering and muttering about the change in teeth. Crop circles in Leadworth. Classic German motorbikes. The return of that Big Hall in Cardiff that they seem to do everything in from Pompeii to Void Ships to meetings with Silurian elders and more besides. Could you really rattle on and bemoan the fact that you can’t quite account for something or it didn’t seem right when you have no clue quite where Moffat’s current intentions with the story arc lay?

Dear, dear me…

In The Library

Well, the two-parter kick-off for Season 6a certainly raised the stakes, opened up many new potentials, and thoroughly excited me. I could feel comfort in the writing and the acting. I thrilled at the interactions between the primary characters, including Canton, and The Silence provided a creepy opposition. And clearly we haven’t seen the last of this take on the Greys of recent sci-fi.

I really enjoyed the River/Doctor relationship, and the final comments left me wondering. I suspect River’s comments mean that the next time they meet, The Doctor won’t fair too well. And, at the same time, we know that River won’t last forever either. My mind drifted to that first meeting, and the name of the episode – Silence in the Library. I know the episode featured a different Doctor and a different companion – but, River died there and the reference to ‘Silence’ has a whole different angle now.

I’m left pondering the hidden (and abandoned) ship in the attic from ‘The Lodger‘. As the Doctor said, The Silence do not create their own hardware or tech, they borrow from the people they control and manipulate. So, who did The Silence borrow this technology from? Does the Gallifreyan appearance – i.e. the general TARDIS setup – suggest something stolen from the Time Lords? Did The Silence invade Gallifrey as well?